Have You Ever Thought of Eating a "Submarine"? An Indonesian Twist Dish

Have You Ever Thought of Eating a "Submarine"? An Indonesian Twist Dish
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Believe it or not, in Indonesia, you can eat a "submarine." Not a real submarine, but pempek kapal selam (submarine in english), a variant of the traditional Palembang dish, pempek. Made from ground fish and tapioca flour, pempek has been recognized as one of the "Best Seafood Dishes" by Taste Atlas.

Read also: Indonesian Pempek Takes Third Place in Taste Atlas' 2024 Best Seafood Dishes, Overtaking Famous Sushi

There are actually many types of pempek that you should try. There's pempek lenjer, which is long; pempek adaan, which is round; pempek pistel, which is filled with young papaya; crispy pempek kerupuk; pempek kulit, which is made from fish skin. However, the most popular is pempek kapal selam, which contains a whole egg inside.

Why is it called “Kapal Selam”?

Pempek kapal selam, although famous by that name, is not its original name. According to According to the Palembang historian and Collector of manuscripts of the Sultanate of Palembang, KMS H. Andi Syarifuddin, the term "pempek kapal selam" is relatively new. In the past, the people of Palembang called it pempek telok besak (big egg), not kapal selam (submarine).

It is said that the idea of calling it a "submarine" came from the way it is cooked, which resembles a submarine in operation.

At the beginning of the making, pempek dough is formed and cooked in hot water. This process is similar to a submarine diving into the ocean.

Interestingly, as the pempek begins to cook, the dough solidifies and slowly floats to the surface of the water. This is like a submarine coming back to the surface after completing its mission.

According to Arifin M Lubis, a chef at Hotel Aryaduta Palembang, in an interview with Kompas, the name "submarine" has no connection to metal or real submarines. "During the boiling process, this pempek sinks into the (boiling water) and its shape is also bigger. The pempek sinks, hence it's called a submarine. But it has nothing to do with metal," said Arifin.

Over time, the name pempek kapal selam has become ingrained in people's minds and has become a unique identity for this type of pempek. Want to try it?

Tags: dishes pempek

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